RIP Grama

{Editor’s Note: For those of you who don’t know, my dad’s mother – my Grama – passed away on July 13, 2014. She had been battling cancer for a few years, and unfortunately she lost that fight. On Sunday, July 20 I gave the eulogy at her funeral service. Below is the eulogy in its unedited entirety. xo.}

My grandmother and my dad's father (who died when I was just a baby) when they were young.
My grandmother and my dad’s father (who died when I was just a baby) when they were young.

It’s easy to assume that two people 52 years apart in age may not have much in common, but Grama and I did… we both loved books. Serious books, silly books… anything with words, really. For as long as I can remember, Grama and I would swap books. To be fair, in most cases she would purchase the book, read it first, write a little love note and review in the front cover, and then hand it over to me. Our own little quasi-book club, if you will. When I was older and Grama moved to Florida, I took my turn sending her a few books I’d read that I thought she would enjoy, and included my own little love notes and reviews in the front cover.

Reading wasn’t the only thing that Grama made special. An incredibly devout Christian, Grama made sure that all of her grandkids understood the importance and significance of Easter… and chocolate (which has nothing to do with being devout, just with being fun). Each year at Easter Grama hosted the whole family at her house for an afternoon of good food, lots of candy, and Easter Egg coloring. Although our parents begged her not to, our baskets were chock full of candy and whatever that weird cellophane grass stuff is that would be strewn about the house for months afterward. When we were little, coloring the eggs was all in good fun – but as we got older it became a competition to see who could create the most artistic egg. Using white crayons, messages were written, and used to create marble patterns, drawings, and random designs. Some eggs were left sitting in cups of food coloring for hours (okay, probably just a few minutes but to a little kid who desperately wants a pink egg, it could feel like eternity) so that the creator’s egg could achieve the perfect hue.

Easter wasn’t the only time Grama pulled out all the stops for us though. When we were all super little it was easy for her to spoil us with presents, but as we got older she would make time for each of us individually or in small groups. Emma, Jocelyn, and I were frequently grouped together for slumber parties at Grama and Grandpa’s, where their house turned into a crime scene and we turned into mini Nancy Drews. The three of us have discussed it and we have no idea what we were looking for, but there are notebooks full of our “clues” to prove that whatever it was, we were diligently searching for it. Looking back, sending three rambunctious little girls on a mission to find nothing in a house packed with gadgets was probably just a great “get out of my hair” tactic – but we sure did have fun doing it!

In addition to our love of reading, Grama and I also shared a love of singing. If I have any ounce of ability to carry a tune, it was passed on from her. My dad has a tendency to make up ridiculous songs, and was always singing to us when we were little, a trait he clearly picked up from his Mom. While we were visiting Grama in Hospice, with Gram getting weaker and too tired to speak, she brightened up when Dad asked if she wanted to sing Jingle Bells, and the two of them sang together (although my dad flubbed the lines!). My dad also sang her a tear-jerking rendition of Pussy Willow, which brought a smile to her face. While she sang in the choir at church for years – both here and in Florida – my singing has been relegated to showers and cars… and my Dad’s has been put on show just about anywhere, including the aisles of grocery stores while shopping for – ahem – feminine products – for his wife and three daughters. A truly mortifying experience.

For anyone who knows our family, it’s clear that we all also inherited the same dry sense of humor, peppered with just the right amount of sarcasm and snark, that Grama passed on to us from her parents. If there’s a comment that seems a bit too dark, at a moment that isn’t quite appropriate, it’s probably passing through all of our minds and we’ll all think it’s funny in a way that only we can. There were quite a few times during her stay at the hospital, the rehabilitation center, or hospice where the nurses were a bit unsure of what to say because this little old lady had made a snarky comment.

When I think about Grama and what we got from her, I think we’ll all agree that our love of singing (whether we can carry a tune or not), silly fun, and a quick-witted, totally dry, possibly inappropriate remark is something we picked up from her.

I’ll remember her the way I always saw her – with a smile and a sparkle in her eye… and a sarcastic comment or two just waiting in the wings.

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